David Brooks of the NYT in his op ed on Nov 4, 2011 talks about the shale gas revolution — and what a revolution it is! Developing and exploiting natural gas through fracking is only the latest technology to come on the scene. In the mid 1970s the United States figured out how to drill for oil and gas in deep sea. In the 1990s fracking was perfected by George P. Mitchell (an Petroleum Engineering from Texas A&M ’40, by the way) even though it had been around for some decades. This event has opened up a whole new source of energy for the United States and many other countries around the world. (We are a very lucky country, in case you don’t know). Some say as much as 100 years of fuel is possible. Further, gas is a key feedstock to many other chemical processes not just a fuel for heating our homes or powering our electric power plants.
Brooks points out that economics drives energy in the U.S. He is so right. Now with plentiful gas, a new floor for energy prices has been put in place. Also what Brooks brings out so well is the demonization and the personal attack element that the various political parties seem to be applying to this find. His statement that “Especially in the Northeast, the gas companies are demonized as Satan in corporate form.” Wow. That’s pretty strong and pretty awful if this what it has all come down to.
Energy is pivotal to modern society. Without it, we freeze, our economy stops, and basically everything you know will go away — perhaps even the law. So, rather than going for someone’s throat because they are bringing energy to us, we should open a discussion about how best to do that. We should make sure it’s done in a way that fairly balances the risks and rewards for the producers and the consumers. How to have a rationale discussion in this age of political ideology, demonizing things we don’t like, and never listening to the other side is the real question.
We have to start this dialogue now. We have to embrace this new found source of natural gas from fracking now. This is a bridge to a new world of cleaner, reliable energy sources. The road is long and if not taken, the United States will begin to slip. One day, we’ll wake up and wonder what happened. I wonder who will be blamed in that day.